February 18, 2017

Smarty Mom: Jennifer Taylor

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Jennifer Taylor is a perfect example of the proverb, “Good things come in small packages.”

What can I say about “Miss Jenny.” The truth is, what can’t I say about Miss Jenny… she is the heart and soul of St. John’s Preschool. She is there to greet you in the morning and bid you farewell in the afternoon. She is never without a tremendous smile. What I love most – she puts your children first! In the carpool line, my twins pray that she is the one that is going to open their door. They LOOOOOOOOOVE her! Her kindness, grace and warmth is felt throughout the entire school. I feel so incredibly blessed to have her in my children’s lives. It is the most amazing feeling to be able to drop off your children and know they are safe and loved.

Let’s get to know a little bit more about this week’s Smarty Mom Jennifer Taylor. image5

Smarty Mom: Jennifer Taylor

Name: Jennifer Taylor
Married to: Jeff
Number of years married: 25
Number of Children & Ages: 19 and 22
Neighborhood: Olde Providence
Career: Preschool Director

Are you a Charlotte native?
No

If not, where did you move from?
Jackson, Michigan

What is your favorite date night place to go?
The Lodge

Are you currently reading anything?
Harry Potter for the third time

Favorite Book.
The Temple of My Familiar by Alice Walker.

Netflix Recommendations.
“Stranger Things” is a series I love because it’s the era I grew up with and could really identify with also the friendship aspect in that movie is awesome. Also LOVE the “Office” – I’ve probably seen each episode 20 times.image1

Favorite time of year: Fall
Favorite Food: Mexican
Favorite moment with your kids: When they were born
Favorite holiday: Christmas (I tell everyone I think I was an elf in a previous life☺)

What is the last thing you cooked in your kitchen?
Egg sandwich for my husband breakfast (I do this every morning☺)

As moms we constantly lose ourselves in the daily grind. What is your favorite thing to do to refresh?
My favorite thing to do is to sit on my porch and watch the birds at the feeders

If you could meet anybody who would it be and why?
The Pope; because, he is deeply interested in the welfare of our worlds children and which something I am so passionate about. Also, I am amazed how down to earth he is and humble with so much responsibility.

Okay, now we are going to switch gears and chat about your career as a preschool director. What advice would you give to new mom’s in search of a preschool for their little ones?
Tour as many as you can … it’s very much like buying a home. Location, curb appeal, vibe once you get inside, cleanliness, kind of people who attend as well as teach. Most of the time your first impression is the right one.

Milestones to look out for during pre-k days.
Speech – is your child talking and can others understand what is being said; Social/Emotional – can your child separate from you and play well with others; Motor Skills – can they jump, hop, run, without difficulty especially by the time they are 4; Cognitive – can they follow a 2 to 3 step instruction. image4

At-home work you recommend with your kiddos.
Turn off all electronics (computers, tv, phones) and let your children play without distractions. Also give them opportunities to help around the house. – set the table, wash the dishes, feed the dog all these things help with self-esteem. And, last READ to your children; this helps encourage retention as well as laying the ground work for literacy skills.

The dreaded word Discipline. Any tricks of the trade you can share with us?
STOP, DROP and DICIPLINE: Whenever your child is doing something that is not working it is imperative no matter where you are to STOP what you are doing, DROP down to their level (eye to eye) and DICIPLINE (remind them of your expectations/rules and if needed have a consequence). Also be consistent if your child sees you wavering they will continue to test the limits.

SMARTY ALERT! SMARTY ALERT!
STOP, DROP and DISCIPLINE is a seminar Mrs. Jenny will be presenting. Wednesday, March 1 at 9:30 at St. John’s Episcopal Pre-School.

To all the moms out there looking for their first preschool or checking out a new school. Jennifer has agreed to tackle every question that you may have. I have asked several different moms (kids ranging from 18 months to 6 years old) to submit questions. So here we go…. image2

Janice’s Questions:
What is the student-teacher ratio?
2 teachers are always in a room no matter what age.
Toddlers 2 teachers to 5 children
2’s – 2 teachers to 12 (1:6 ratio)
3’s – 2 teachers to 12 (1:6)
4’s – 2 teachers to 14
TK – 2 teachers to 16

What is your educational philosophy?
Developmentally Appropriate Practices – children learn at different rates. So, as an educator it is imperative to be flexible and not push something they can’t handle. If children are forced to learn something that developmentally is impossible they become frustrated which can lead to low self-esteem.

How does St. John’s approach learning? Play-based. Student centered, with the teachers acting as guides and students learning at their own pace, as in the Montessori format? Or is it a project based approach, as in Reggio Emilia form learning, where students are encouraged to explore and solve problems and resolve conflicts?

At St. John’s we incorporate both forms –again, children birth to 8 respond differently to different approaches. Our goal is to meet all the children’s needs so they can be successful. Learning by experimenting, playing, group work is a way for children to find out about themselves and it’s important to have an all encompassing approach.

Is St. John’s a follower of a positive behavior support philosophy?
Yes, my teachers are tasked with setting the children up for success every day. This means making sure their needs are met and their worries are paid attention to. Also, a loving forgiving environment is key to their self-esteem which is why we redirect as well as explain natural consequences. The children are never wrong instead they are encouraged to learn other possibilities.

Amy’s Questions:
General Philosophy?
St. John’s Preschool is a ministry of St. John’s Episcopal Church. The mission of our preschool is to seek to serve young children and their families in the Charlotte Mecklenburg community. We believe a good preschool program should be based on developmental principles and this is our basis of designing educational experiences. Our curriculum is directed toward the formation of basic concepts and readiness skill through the use of many varied “hands on”, concrete learning experiences.

Curriculum?
We follow Creative Curriculum and Handwriting without Tears for our 4’s and TK students

Objectives of the Program?
Children at St. John’s will have the opportunity to:
·Engage in interesting and appropriate experiences that integrate social, emotional, intellectual, and physical development.
·Grow in self-esteem, curiosity, independence, and individual strengths.
·Become increasingly self-motivated, cooperative, and able to resolve
problems among themselves.
·Develop control of their own behavior through positive adult guidance.
·Participate in activities & games that encourage the development of large & small motor skills.

Above all, we believe each child is sacred, special and unique. We seek to meet his or her particular individual needs in a secure, emotionally supportive environment. Every child is treated, at all times, as God’s own and is treated in a fashion that would please Jesus Christ, a lover of children.

It is our sincere hope that the children who come to St. John’s Preschool will find a joyful, enriching learning experience that will develop a love for learning and a sense of security that will last a lifetime.

Brynn’s Questions:
How do you see the role of free play in the classroom?
It is absolutely imperative so children can grow their imaginations and begin to self-regulate

How do you take in account the interests the children come with?
A play based curriculum like ours encourages children to explore and create based on their comfort level.

How much pressure do you get to prepare them for kindergarten? Do you feel like this is your main job (the question is paralleling how parents feel about teaching-to-the-test in elementary school)?
Our goal is to set children up for success. As a mother of two children who went through CMS I know how important it is to teach children self-confidence and self-regulation. Without these things in place learning especially in Kindergarten becomes very difficult. We give children as much encouragement to try new things without negativity so when they get to kindergarten they will be open and willing to learn what is expected of them especially in CMS.

What is done in the classroom to increase vocabulary?
We sing, we do rhyming, we read and explore letters, etc. and we label items all around our classrooms even in the toddler room.
What is your main advice to parents?
Let them be children – make messes, play, be silly because once they get into grade school the focus is totally academics. Also, don’t stress too much. They are who they are and will be just fine.

Kristy’s Questions
How do teachers correspond with parents?
Through Shutterfly, hard copy materials and email.

Does you school’s curriculum meet national standards?
While we are not NAEYC certified, We follow NAEYC developmental guidelines.

What are the qualifications of your teachers?
Lead Teachers have to have either some kind of early childhood education/elementary background or have been a Lead Teacher in a preschool for 6 or more years.

What type of security is in place at the school?
We have doors that lock after drop off and then reopen before pickup – teachers are the only ones who have the ability to come and go.

What is the policy on discipline and conflict resolution?
Expectations/rules are outlined in the classroom and based on age appropriate development. Natural consequences and discussion with teachers on what is a better choice is the best at this age.

How do you prepare the kids for kindergarten?
Our goal is to set children up for success. As a mother of two children who went through CMS I know how important it is to teach children self-confidence and self-regulation. Without these things in place learning especially in Kindergarten becomes very difficult. We give children as much encouragement to try new things without negativity so when they get to kindergarten they will be open and willing to learn what is expected of them especially in CMS.

Devon’s Questions
Security measures?
Security doors that lock and unlock before and after school – FOB Keys that only teachers use.

Discipline policies?
Expectations/rules are outlined in the classroom and based on age appropriate development. Natural consequences
and discussion with teachers on what is a better choice is the best at this age.

Example of class schedule?
9:15 to 9:40 – Drop off
9:40 to 10:00 – morning circle
10:00 to 11:00 – Centers/art activity
11:00 to 12:00 is lunch for the older children (4’s and TK) and outside play for the other classes
12:00 to 12:45 is lunch for the Toddlers, 2’s and 3’s and outside time for 4’s and TK
Times and activities vary based on weather and our specials: My Gym, Music and Movement, Science Lab, and Music with Ms. Holly

Example of lesson plan, daily or weekly classroom focus?
All classes follow the same themes – Dinosaurs in every classroom but introduced using the appropriate developmental guidelines. Lesson Plans incorporate the following no matter what Theme: social/emotional activities, literacy, small and large motor skills, art, music, etc.

Aimee’s questions
Training for teachers? Do follow any general philosophies or teaching programs?
My staff has a number hours each year they have to fulfill – they can attend seminars I being in as well as seminars put on by other schools.

Educational Theory that schedule/lessons are based on? Play?
Creative Curriculum, play-based.

What do you do for kindergarten preparation?

Our goal is to set children up for success. As a mother of two children who went through CMS I know how important it is to teach children self-confidence and self-regulation. Without these things in place learning especially in Kindergarten becomes very difficult. We give children as much encouragement to try new things without negativity so when they get to kindergarten they will be open and willing to learn what is expected of them especially in CMS.

I know right, Jennifer Taylor is super smarty! She is not only an amazing educator, she is a pretty cool person, too.
Be sure to stayed tuned to next week’s Insta-story. I will be taking you on a virtual tour with Miss Jenny at St. John’s Preschool.

“As a former educator, I am embarrassed to say I failed to ask any of those questions. It was two years ago, that I met with Jennifer to tour the campus of St. John’s Preschool. The school is quietly tucked away on Carmel Rd. If you aren’t looking, you will drive right by. The playground is nestled in the corner behind the building. As I entered, I was immediately greeted by friendly smiles and walls adorned with children’s artwork. My twins were holding on to my legs for dear life. This would be their first school year ever. I was one of those moms that was super scared….carpool, school lunches… could they survive. But, that all changed when I met Jennifer Taylor. As I mentioned in my introduction, she is the heart and soul of the school. She fills the air with warmth and grace. I left that day knowing my children were going to be safe and loved. Smarties, my advice to you. When looking for a preschool, meet the director. She/he is responsible for the overall environment of the school. Everything else, will come in order.”
~ Smarty Jenni

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